It has been well documented that as countries industrialize and their national income increases, the birth rate goes down. Why does this happen?
The conventional wisdom, which I am sure is 100% wrong, is explained in an Economist article. In developed countries, women are more educated, and this education somehow makes them smart enough to understand why they should have fewer children. And also because this education gives women better options to pursue fulfilling careers rather than stay at home and raise children.
So yes, I think the conventional wisdom is a crock of BS. Jobs available to women in industrializing countries are crappy factory jobs. And there’s no reason why learning how to read is going to counteract the natural instinct to have children.
No, to understand why birth rates decline, one must understand evolutionary biology and then be able to reach some startling conclusions about the supposed “benefits” of industrialization.
Mother Nature has programmed us to want to have lots of children. If people are not having children, then that means something weird and unnatural is happening. More than six years ago, I blogged about my theory of resource insecurity. That evolution has programmed us to put of childbearing in times of scarce resources. This was a useful mechanism in times of genuine resource scarcity, because it would be bad for your existing children if there’s not enough food to feed them but then you go have another child.
This bring us to the very strange conclusion that as countries grow wealthier, people of childbearing age feel poorer. And I explained the feeling of poverty in my original blog post. Our genes don’t understand that in modern times, there are plenty of resources available to feed your children. Our genes still live in the past when, if you felt poorer than your parents or neighbors, it probably meant there isn’t enough food to feed any more children.
Why do people in rich countries feel poorer than people in poor countries? The answer is that feeling of poverty are relative and not absolute. In industrialized or develop countries, older people are much more financially well off than young people because they have both savings and an established career. Young people of childbearing age just don’t feel like they have enough resources to have children.
From the perspective of Darwinian adaptability, the best childbearing strategy for an advanced country like the United States is to have as many children as possible. In the United States, no child ever starves to death because their mother gave birth to many more children than she could support. The state steps in and gives them free food. Declining birth rates will soon reverse themselves as the old-school genes suited to pre-industrial living are replaced with genes better suited for a modern society. Yes, that means that a welfare mom with multiple kids is better suited to modern society than a college-educated couple with just one kid.